THE DUSTY BAKER UPDATE
I have this quip that I am pretty sure I made up and it goes like this: The grass is never greener on the other side. But it sure smells different. It’s safe to say that Dusty Baker would be using it if I let him. You have to ask permission, you know.
After 3+ years of Dusty’s tenure, I think it is also safe to say:
- He does not like it here in Chicago. He does not like the media. He does not like the fans. It is not the lovey-dovey experience he might have thought he was in for. The media is tough and they don’t worship him. The fans had a taste of success and expected him to bring us the glory of a championship.
- If he didn’t stand to lose about 4 million dollars he would leave asap. Or let’s put it like this: next year the Cubs and Team X offer him approximately the same financial package. Team X, meet your new manager.
- He is not as good as advertised. His handling of the pitching staff is brutal. I would have to check again, but I believe the Cubs led the league in starts with 120+ pitches. He stays with players too long, like Hawkins. The lineups he put out last year would have been scoffed at by an 8 year old kid with a PS2 baseball game. Running out Patterson and Perez at the top of your lineup for 80+ games was just unbelievable. The 2 biggest out machines in the league, batting at the top?
- He really doesn’t like young players. Even when the Cubs were out of it he still ran out Jose Macias to play LF and had Murton on the bench. And just the other day he had weird comments about his handling of young players.
The Sun Times and Trib each had articles about him recently. The Times had this: Baker was asked whether he would need to ponder accepting an extension if one is offered.
“I’ll think about it when it happens,” he said. “I have been in this situation six times in 13 years. This is the first time I ever had a contract over two years, so I’m used to going into this [final] year in this situation. … If the team wins, everything else takes care of itself.”
The Trib had an article that included Baker being asked about playing Murton and Cedeno. “If I don’t [play them] I’ll be accused of not liking young players.” I found it rather odd that he would take a question about his club and make it about himself. He does a lot of that. And this quote certainly isn’t indicative of his “player’s manager” tag: “We weren’t fundamentally good for my teams,” Baker answered. “My teams never had that reputation. The Cubs have been fundamentally bad for a long time. It reared its ugly head.” So none of that was his fault. Because his other teams weren’t like that and because historically the Cubs have been poor at fundamentals. Huh?
I find Baker to be a strange dude and I think that while he may be able to sort out egos and unite players, he’s not exactly the sharpest baseball mind. Too many times to count or cite, he has said things about aspects of the game that had me scratching my head. He also is totally defensive and seems overly concerned about the media and fan reaction.
Baker is 256-229, .528 in his 3 years of leading the Cubs. Would another skipper have compiled a better record? I don’t know. But I do know that Dusty Baker is not what I thought we were getting–a 3-time manager of the year who would take the Cubs to the World Series.